Testing Challenges with BLE devices

Testing Challenges with BLE devices

14 August 2020

Introduction

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a low power wireless communication technology that can be used over a short distance that enables smart devices to communicate. It entered the market in 2011 as Bluetooth 4.0 and captured the market very shortly.

iOS, Windows and Android devices support a Bluetooth connection for up to 7 devices simultaneously, but the number of connections depends on the manufacturer. Though, the manufacturers recommend that you connect no more than 2-4 Bluetooth devices simultaneously.

In comparison to Classic Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is designed to provide significantly lower power consumption. This allows Android apps to communicate with BLE devices that have stricter power requirements, such as sensors, heart rate monitors, and fitness devices and many more.

With Bluetooth LE’s power consumption, applications can run on a small battery. Although this isn’t ideal for talking on the phone, it is vital for applications that only need to exchange small amounts of data periodically, it is preferable because of fast data transfer. Data transfer rates are high up to 1 Mb/s. BLE remains in sleep mode constantly except for when a connection is initiated.

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It is becoming one of the most widely deployed wireless technologies, getting used in a wide range of applications such as tracking, fitness monitoring, location services, and remote sensing. BLE devices are often small and in many cases fully encapsulated in protective housing to protect against environmental effects.

Challenges faced while Testing and Resolution

(Non-physical/Software issues)

Range:

Connectivity of BLE devices with Mobile phones (iOS/Android) all depends on Range. Mobile phones must be in range of BLE to get connected with BLE devices. Sometimes it happens, even though they are close to each other but do not get connected.

Resolution

Once checked for Power supply and Bluetooth is working properly.

Battery Drainage:

Although the BLE device works on very little power, the action of searching the BLE device is heavy and consumes a lot of battery of the searching device.

Resolution

Check with Developers to make the search window as small as possible, to less drainage issues for mobile phones.

Connectivity Issues:

Sometimes few phones do not get connected with the BLE devices, it may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Resolution

In testing, we make sure we must check the connectivity compatibility of BLE devices with Mobile phones as much as possible. With different OS versions and with different Mobile OEMs.

BLE device having network connectivity issues (Supports SIM cards):

BLE devices which support SIM cards could have network connectivity issues. It could cause serious trouble while sending data to the server.

Resolution

We should cooperate with developers to make sure that we are using the SIM with strong connectivity.

Communication:

Sometimes, BLE is not able to search the custom services on which communication takes place with Mobile Bluetooth because of some custom setting issues.

Resolution

To resolve this issue, we need to make sure our mobile application is not opting for any kind of battery optimization.

Garbage Data:

Sometimes, BLE devices send garbage data to the server.

Resolution

While testing we should validate the data, the data we are generating while testing is getting stored on the server, instead of any garbage data.

Communicate with developers to keep an eye on Null/ blank values. Also, take care if the BLE device provides language support.

IP rating:

IP rating is important to know. The BLE device we are using should have a stable IP rating up to mark to prevent further hardware failure issues or to cope up with the failure if occurs anyway.

Resolution

Make sure you check the IP rating of your BLE device and mention it into User Manual. It must have a stable IP rating. Check with the team and prepare with preventive measures if the failure occurs.

QA Best Practices

Here are few prerequisites to cope up with challenges faced. Always check for these settings before looking for further inspection if you are having trouble in connection with BLE, sometimes these prerequisites come very handy while resolving a few issues. Make this as a checklist before going any further.

  1. Bluetooth permission
  2. Application AutoStart
  3. No battery restriction
  4. GPS Permission with high accuracy
  5. Make sure end-points are directed to the proper IP address.

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